A deal to develop 260 residential blocks, a retirement village and shops just outside The Gap is at a stalemate. The picturesque land, 150 hectares on the southern flank of the ranges, off Ragonesi Road, is owned by Ron Sterry.
The project has been limping along for some 10 years with some of the roads, sewerage and storm water drains in place, but no work in progress at present.
Last year a consortium of local and interstate interests made an offer to Mr Sterry with the intention of starting work immediately towards the completion of the development. The head of the consortium, David Cantwell, who co-owns a project management and certifying business in Alice Springs, says the offer is worth $15m. Contracts were drawn up following an undertaking by Mr Sterry to proceed. However, Mr Sterry pulled out of the deal at the "very last moment".
Mr Sterry says: "I rejected the offer because I felt it was not it was not good enough." PICTURE: The picturesque site from the air.
A native title holder says there should be an investigation into the ownership of the land in Mt Johns Valley now being developed as a residential estate.
William Craig says he and his sister Connie, both from the Antulye estate group, have been fighting for four years to get clarity about the deal.
The process by which the land came into the possession of LAE Nominees Pty Ltd needs to be investigated, he says. The town's native title body Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC) had authority over the land and was the party to do a deal in its regard with the NT Government. The question is, how did the land end up in the hands of a private company over which LAAC has no control. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
DRAWING: Architect's impression of units at Mt Johns subdivision.